After Amy’s column in the Statesman Journal this weekend, we’ve gotten a wonderful response from folks sharing their memories of the Columbus Day Storm. Here are a few…
Linda from Salem remembers:
I was 9 years old when the storm hit. My Dad worked for the State and was stuck in the Labor and Industry Building and could watch all the trees fall in the Capitol park. He did not get home until after 9 pm when he walked home going around tons of downed trees and live power wires.
My Mom Peggy and 3 kids weathered out the storm. I was the oldest. I was sent out to chase the garbage cans and get them secured in the garage and fasten the garage doors.
The power went out, the phone lines dead. Many trees fell all around our neighborhood. We were scared and hid under the dinning room table.
The scariest thing was we had a sawdust furnace. The wind drew the burning sawdust up into the chimney and we had a chimney fire burning the wall paper in the kitchen and smoke everywhere. Mom and I went downstairs and knocked the sawdust hopper onto the cement floor of the basement. There was no more fuel for the fire so gradually the fire went out. We could not call the fire department as the phone was dead and it was too dangerous to go outside.
All the neighbors got together and we set up camping equipment for around a week. All the families pooled their food and we all ate together. The power was restored in a week but they hooked it up backwards and we only had 1/2 power. It was another week before we finally had all of our power back. Insurance paid to restore the kitchen wallpaper and all the smoke damage.
In our neighborhood we lost apple trees, Catalpa trees, fir trees, a huge oak tree fell into a neighbor’s house exposing the upstairs bathroom and you could see the tub! Our elm trees survived and lived another 50 years but had to be trimmed back after the storm. I would say that we lost at least 13 trees in just our own block. Richmond School is one block down and they lost many trees especially the tall fir trees.
The city went through and replanted all the beautiful trees that we had lost and they continue to thrive!
Walter from Salem remembers
In 1962 I was a student at Oregon State University. I was enrolled in a meteorology class. On the day of the storm I was on the top floor of the Physics Chemistry Building in a meteorology lab.
In the news there were reports of a pending storm, a spin-off from Typhoon Freda. As meteorology student I took great note of these newscasts. So, at the meteorology lab I mentioned that the forecast was for high winds. Our instructor was a retired naval officer, Capt. Tatum, who had been head of the Naval Weather Service. Mention of the forecasted storm seemed to be news to Capt. Tatum. The meteorology lab was well equipped with instruments and equipment. The room contained a facsimile machine for receiving weather maps. This was not the type of facsimile machine we now think of, rather it produced a sheet of paper about 24” x 36” in size. The paper it produced was a sepia colored map. The Captain ran off a current weather map from the machine. When Capt. Tatum looked at the weather map he said, “My God, look at the isobar packing. With such packing we should be having high winds. I wonder what the barograph shows.” We walked around a column and looked at the barograph. The barograph trace was just going off scale at the bottom of the recording drum. The meteorology lab room had large windows looking to the south and we watched the storms intensify and trees began to fall. Captain Tatum terminated the laboratory and sent us students home. On the several block to walk home to where my new bride and I were living I was nearly hit by a falling tree. When I got home my wife and I grabbed our little box camera and went out in an attempt to take pictures of the storm. Since it was very overcast and getting dark the photographs were disappointing. We watched as people stood with her hands braced against the windows of the Payless Drugstore in downtown Corvallis. I took a picture of the traffic lights, which were blowing almost horizontally in the wind. As I remember it we were without power for about 24 hours. We tried to drive to my wife’s parents placed nearer Oakville to the East and found fallen trees blocked the roads.
In town the power was restored fairly soon, but in the rural areas it took longer. My father-in-law was a rye grass farmer. One of the pieces of equipment he had was a diesel powered electric generator. He loaded it on a truck and drove around to the neighbors and supplied jolts of power to keep freezes cold and to pump fuel from farm tanks for over a week.